I can remember clearly when I started my first online shop, I created an online store and a Facebook page, added some pictures of the product. And then I asked myself, now what? How are the customers going to find me? I thought to myself, I have some awesome products. If the customers see them, they are going to love them and buy them from me. Let's wait for Facebook to do the magic for me but nothing happened at all.
That was the start of my 12 years of learning how to find and drive customers to my online shop.
In this guide, I'm going to create a step-by-step guide for the ones who are in the same situation that I was 12 years ago. The guide is about what to do, what not to do, and in which order.
In this guide you will learn:
What makes you go out of the business? To me and most people out there who start their own online shop for the first time, there are two things running out of money, or burning out. That's when the dream didn't come true. Time's up, you have to look for a job, put an end to your online business dream.
You need to take good care of two things, your morale and your money. Creating something out of nothing is beautiful, but hard, you really need to take good care of yourself, to go through this process.
Ok, I'm going to show what needs to be done step-by-step to prevent this from happening.
Many of the ideas are not going to work. It's completely normal, and it's not the end of the world. It happens to all of us.
The painful part is to waste our lives on creating a business without any customers.
So the best way to avoid wasting our lives is to find out as soon as possible. Learning whether your business is going to work before running out of money, should be your first priority when you start something new.
But how? Ideas are abstract, you need to ask good questions to evaluate their value. There are 4 questions that you need to ask yourself and answer whenever you have a business idea. Your job is to find the answers in the real world.
To make a business, you need to find the answers to the following questions:
There should be people with a specific problem that they are aware of and they are willing to solve it.
It means that they are willing to use a solution and they can afford it and are going to pay for it. If the customer couldn't afford it or is not willing to pay for it, so there is something wrong here.
Example: A person has a backache, but can't afford a massage every week. So he is not a customer for a massage therapy clinic.
Just because a person has a problem and willing to pay for it, it doesn't mean that he/she is going to buy it from you. This is what many small business owners forget.
This is usually the least important one. For example, many people are going to start their dropshipping store, they look at the stats and say, yes, people are buying product X, and there is a great margin on it, so I need to find a good supplier to start my business.
They just skip the first three important questions and go straight to the last one.
First, we make some assumptions about customers, problems they might have, and their reaction to your solution.
Then we are going to test each one of our assumptions in the real world.
Know your customer
I remember when I started, this step wasn't attractive to me, so I skipped it and went for the interesting cool trending steps. (Like creating an ad, or selecting a cool edgy theme for my shop).
And mostly, after a while when I got really frustrated I had to come back to it.
It's the most essential step in order not to go out of the business.
It's necessary to know( or even guess ) who is going to buy your products.
When you know them well, you can come up with ways to get in front of their eyes.
For sure, it's really hard to find the correct answer at the beginning, but having a list of potential customers is enough for the start.
Who is your customer? I created this guide to help you create your customer's profile.
You are going to come back to your customer's profile and update it when:
Yes, that's the time. In this step, you don't need to think about traffic or any other matters, only focus on the first few customers.
You have a list of your potential customers, it's time to go and target them one by one.
It's logical to always start with the easiest one. The ones that are available to you.
Let's get back to the example, I want to sell "comfortable, stylish outdoor leggings" online.
Am I going to use them myself?
Yes? Great, remember that I assume that friends of my customers are going to rush and come and buy from my store. Let's have an experiment, I can be my first customer, I can wear them on and take a selfie, tag my business page, and post it on social media. Let's see how my friends are going to react.
Sometimes, ideas come from personal experience, you need a product and find it difficult or expensive to get it. So maybe it inspires you to go and build a webshop to sell the specific product.
If that's your case, go ahead, think hard about the time that you had the problem, add it to your customer's profile. So you could go and target people similar to yourself.
In the same way, I can ask my friends and family to be my first customers.
Ask them to buy from you, and post it on their social media.
You need your customers to trust you. So always start with your friends and family. Nothing gives you more motivation and energy than having a sale. The money itself doesn't matter now. You need the energy to keep going.
If you don't have any friends or family in your customer's segment, it's alright, jump to the next step.
Check your customers' profiles, and make a list of the online places that they hang out.
Maybe they are members of a specific Facebook group or subreddit.
Back to our example, "Women who go for an outdoor run or go to the gym". Where do they hang out digitally? They maybe,